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LAPD Disbanding Gang Units in Highland Park and South LA and You Won’t Believe Why

KPCC is reporting that LAPD Chief Charlie Beck is disbanding five anti-gang units in Highland Park and South Los Angeles. To counter the loss of these units, which have access to special databases and classified information on gang activities, the Chief will place more rank-and-file officers on the streets in those areas, although he declined to say how many.

From the outside it's difficult to know what this loss will mean, how effective these specialized units are, and what the impact on the street will actually be. The intriguing part of the story is why these units are being disbanded. It's not because the gang problem is getting any better. It's not because the city is trying new tactics to help neighborhoods plagued by gang violence from a different direction that doesn't involve the court system and the police. It's not because of budget cuts.

The reason the city is losing five units assigned to organized crime is because the officers involved don't want to let the LAPD peek inside their bank accounts. Narcotics and gang officers in the city of LA are now required to disclose financial information, a method used to root out corruption in two of the most notoriously corrupt wings of the LAPD. So far all of the Narcotics officers have signed onto the new rules, something the Chief attributes to job security in the narcotics division and KPCC says has to do with those officers already being used to intense scrutiny. Gang unit officers see their position as a stepping stone to better jobs within the force, although that still doesn't explain why so many of them (up to 25% of the city's 300 gang specialists) are quitting the units rather then disclose their finances.

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